The Sexist

With Great Cleavage Comes Great Responsibility

[youtube:v=VMxyZQfMmM4]

A couple of months ago, I was at a house party. A couple of guys I was with started commenting on the appearance of a woman sitting across the room. She was wearing what they considered to be a very inappropriate shirt—a low-cut v-neck that revealed what registered to them as an obscene level of cleavage. They were speculating as to why a woman would wear such a shirt in public and what her intentions were in putting it on. "If I were wearing that same shirt, it wouldn't seem inappropriate at all," I noted. Of course, it wasn't really the shirt—it was the size of the woman's breasts that was deemed socially unacceptable.

Big boobs: I don't have them. And good thing, too, because if I did, I'd have to dress myself with the expectation that others would view my anatomy as inherently obscene. This week, plus-size clothing company Lane Bryant accused FOX and ABC of refusing to air its latest lingerie commercial over decency concerns. The central objection? Lane Bryant's well-endowed underwear models revealed cleavage that was just too ample. The low-down, from Ad Week:

In a post on LB's Inside Curve blog, the company complains that "ABC and Fox have made the decision to define beauty for you by denying our new, groundbreaking Cacique commercial from airing freely on their networks." . . . The post also claims that ABC "restricted our airtime" and refused to air the spot during Dancing With the Stars, while Fox "demanded excessive re-edits and rebuffed it three times before relenting to air it during the final 10 minutes of American Idol, but only after we threatened to pull the ad buy."

The post continues: "Yes, these are the same networks that have scantily-clad housewives so desperate they seduce every man on the block—and don't forget Bart Simpson, who has shown us the moon more often than NASA—all in what they call 'family hour.'"

The ad depicts several attractive, plus-sized models in the latest line of Lane Bryant lingerie. Ample cleavage—which Bryant says was a problem for the nets—is on display in the ad. "The networks exclaimed, 'She has . . . cleavage!' Gasp!'' the blog post states.

Ah, "ample cleavage"—not to be confused with the socially acceptable amount of cleavage displayed by Victoria's -Secret-sized models, who generally possess large—but apparently not obscenely large—breasts. Fox and ABC didn't respond to Ad Week's request for comment; Lane Bryant has since removed the accusatory post from its blog, Inside Curve, but it still touts the offending ad on its website as "The Lingerie Commercial Fox and ABC Didn't Want Its Viewers to See."

The lesson, ladies, is that great cleavage comes with great responsibility. People who shame women for wearing "too-revealing" clothes like to center their objections on women's clothing "choices," but make no mistake—this is not about what we choose. This is about the things we don't choose—having chests or butts or legs or necks or hair or any other part of our human bodies that others decide to project their particular sexual interests—and their slut-shaming—upon. The man who is horrified at a woman's "overly exposed" breasts will likely never have to worry about wearing one shirt—one shirt out of a lifetime of shirts—that happens to accidentally set off some random person's slut meter, because of the way his body just is. And because my breasts are smaller, less visible, less imposing than other women's breasts—because there's less boob there—I can feel free to wear the more revealing top without attracting claims of public obscenity. It seems that some women's bodies are just naturally sluttier than other women's bodies—and all women's bodies are naturally sluttier than men's bodies.

Comments

  1. #1

    You have no idea how relevant this is to me. Basically, anything cut lower than a standard t-shirt is going to reveal my decolletage. I've had big breasts since I hit puberty, and thus have been dealing with trying to find clothes that fit, bras that fit, and ignoring all the stares and comments since I was a kid. I'm not trying to tantalize and/or horrify the general public with my tremendous, obscene, 38J milk bags. Nor am I willing to undergo surgery or resign myself to a life of Victorian-era necklines just because I've got big breasts and that makes other people uncomfortable.

    This is my gift. This is my curse. Spiderman 3 was a terrible movie.

  2. #2

    Preach it, Amanda! This is yet another conversation that I tend to get into with other women. With my slight size comes the same slight boobage, and I can't tell you how many comments about how many shirts I can get away with that other, more endowed women can't wear.

    Following that comment, though, is one that will most likely get my feminist card taken away from me: every size of woman is not supposed to wear every type of clothing made out there. Just because they make it in your size doesn't mean that it's going to look nice on you. Now, with regard to the lady on which your male friends commented, did she look nice in her top? You can show skin being a top heavy and still look good. Or did she look like she was about to pop out of her top? That would not be a good look.

  3. #3

    @TJ - Seriously? Demanding to know whether a woman "looked nice in her top" so you can judge whether it was acceptable for her to wear it? That sound you just heard, that was the point of this post whistling by over your head.

    If you don't like the way a woman looks in something she's wearing, (a) look away, and (b) consider that she may be thinking the exact same thing about you. You can think whatever you want about anyone's clothing choices, but your aesthetic perceptions aren't universal, and even if they were, ugly ain't illegal. Kindly rememer that your opinions are not universal moral imperatives, and in fact are probably informed by all kinds of sizeist, racist, classist, and sexist prejudices.

  4. #4

    Thank you for this post.

    There is so much irony and hypocrisy in regards to how people view women's bodies.

    I have a senior feminist-identified colleague who is extremely judgemental amount any women at work who show a bit of cleavage. Does she think they are being professionally inappropriate, or does she just wish she had some cleavage of her own? I don't get it.

  5. #5

    Like the first commenter, I can't wear anything lower than a scoop neck without showing off ample cleavage. Many shirts and/or dresses are not cut to cover my cleavage to the amount that I would prefer, but the only other option are high-necked shirts that make my boobs look even bigger! I hate that I'm constantly pulling up my shirts or worried about the amount of cleavage I'm showing (am I making that person uncomfortable? Is this the appropriate level of cleavage to show in this situation?) when there doesn't really seem to be a solution to the problem. And, like the first commenter, I spent the majority of my high school years larger than most of my friends, with a (now seemingly small) size 32C, that were the focus of too much attention, from both my male and female friends. I've spent most of my life worried about my big boobs, when there has never really been anything I could do about them.

  6. #6

    I used to have a nice, church lady of a boss who would stand over my desk, look down my shirt, and tell me that my clothing and breasts set a bad example for the staff under my supervision and gave men "ideas." When I asked for a written copy of the dress code, in order to shop more appropriately, she said she didn't want to limit her staff's freedom like that and that we could wear anything as long as it was "professional." Which meant, I could buy anything I wanted, but I wouldn't know whether it was acceptable work clothing until I wore it in and had heard her opinion about it.

  7. #7

    Limiting comment to the networks' action -- remember that they operate in fear of the FCC's enormous fines, which apparently can be triggered by a complaint from three people in Podunk. CBS was fined $550,000 for Janet Jackson, later overturned, but what network wants to go there?

    They lose no matter what they do, but there haven't yet been any fines for making arbitrary and illogical decisions, so that's what they're going with.

    And now, back to our reality shows full of scantily-clad people, and action shows full of gunfire and fireballs. And tomorrow! we have Torture!! on 24!!! But we promise there won't be any boobage.

  8. #8

    TJ, this isn't about taking feminist cards away from people. Saying that women should be hyper conscious about their appearance and wear only what "looks good" simply doesn't make any sense. What "looks good" is, after all, a subjective standard based on the culture that we live in, and in our case, it's based on patriarchal expectations.

    I don't have the largest breasts in the world, but a lot of clothing that I like is designed for women with smaller breasts. Duh. But I like how I look it in, and so I don't care what other people think. Because of that, a non-low-cut top (think Old Navy's classic short-sleeved V-neck shirts--incredibly basic, not meant to be low-cut) looks like I'm trying to flaunt my cleavage. I actually wish I didn't feel required to wear a bra; that would make my breasts look smaller and it would make such shirts "more appropriate."

    Look, I trust everyone to make good judgments about what they will wear. As long as people keep their genitals covered, I don't think I really care that much, though (it should be noted, though, that I think the topless double standard is ridiculous--if I could go topless at the beach, I would).

  9. #9

    Thank you! I have dealt with this since puberty as well. Due to the size of my chest, I often have to choose between: a) something I'm afraid looks too 'fitted', b) something I'm afraid shows too much cleavage or c) a burka. Ok, I'm being dramatic, but I refuse to wear a baggy t-shirt 2 sizes too large just to hide the fact that I have breasts. Please know that whatever I'm wearing shows a lot less boobage than the 10 shirts I tried on and *didn't* buy! Maybe some day I'll have the courage to wear one of those too, without the fear of shame.

  10. #10

    You should attend parties with straight guys if you don't want to hear comments like that I guess.

  11. #11

    And then there's the problem with dress codes. I work for an organisation whose current dress code amounts to boys, you can wear anything except earrings, girls, don't show your slutty cleavage or slutty legs. I am trying to convince them that it might be a good idea to de-gender the dress code a little lest it be regarded as discriminatory.

  12. #12

    I have had large breasts for years. I guess I first noticed as a senior in high school when people would yell comments at me as we passed in the hallway. I also found out how people classified me: my name didn't ring a bell, but when my breasts were mentioned, people knew.
    for some reason, having bigger breasts (which wasn't by choice, however) seemed to make people think they had permission to make comments and grab at them when they felt like it.
    I don't usually have a problem with shirts that expose more cleavage than I'm comfortable with, but I do have a problem finding bras that fit me, and I'm constantly having to readjust and try to mold them into the cups. I also have trouble finding shirts that are long enough if not wide enough. It doesn't seem that clothing designers thought of my body type when they designed their clothes.

  13. #13

    Man, this is like the story of my life! I have 36F boobs, and when I wear just a simple v-neck, I can end up looking kind of slutty. It can be hard, even though I don't really care much what other people think about my body, since it seems like people make certain assumptions about me, based on nothing but what my body looks like naturally. Sometimes when I'm out at a bar, even when I'm not wearing a low cut shirt, I'll get people (mostly girls) coming up to me and asking if they're real, and even if they can touch them. I've never seen anything like that happen to my smaller-chested friends, and I'm curious about why people think it's alright to ask a complete stranger questions like this.

  14. #14

    I have that same problem too...and my breasts aren't even THAT big...they're between a C and D cup. But if I listened to my mother about what's simply too low-cut and obscene to wear, I would pretty much have nothing but T-shirts to wear. (I have always hated turtlenecks. They're uncomfortable and make me feel like I'm choking. I refuse to wear them.)

    And it must be so much tougher for women with a true "rack of doom" (as many of the fatosphere ladies like to call it).

  15. #15

    cdog - "Please know that whatever I’m wearing shows a lot less boobage than the 10 shirts I tried on and *didn’t* buy!"

    OMG thank you! I've made similar statements over the years. Compared to some of the other posters I feel like I'm complaining a little too much about my D cups :( but on my smaller frame I think they're HUGE. It may not *seem* like a "real" issue, but it IS a real pain in the @ss to find clothing that fits a petite body with a large chest - either I can find something that fits most of my body but not the chest or I have to buy stuff that fits my chest but not the rest of my body. Sadly, when I finally do find something that fits my chest, it's often pretty loose in other areas which can lead to "slutty" gaps or slips in coverage. I end up having to spend quite a bit on tailoring to look "professional."

    Again, I know this may not seem like a "real" issue to some people, but for me it is. And I get really tired of comments about wearing something "appropriate" when very few places make or sell things that ARE appropriate for me.

  16. #16

    I don't just have large breasts, I have large HIGH breasts and a tiny waist. I even look booby in t shirts, and anything that ISN'T a tshirt shows epic cleavage.

    Which I think is awesome, but apparently it causes earthquakes.

  17. #17

    So, I assume we are all looking forward to the "Boobquake"
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=116336578385346&ref=mf

  18. #18

    MS MANDY YOU ON THE ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE? SO IS MY WIFE. SHE IS A LIFE LONG MEMBER. SHE CAN WEAR MY A-SHIRTS WITHOUT A BRA AND NOT BAT AN EYE!

    I ACTUALLY FEEL FOR YOU LADIES WITH THE BOOBIES THAT GARNER MORE ATTENTION THAN YOU YOURSELF ACTUALLY RECEIVE FROM AVAILABLE GENTS. ME PERSONALLY I THINK WOMEN BREASTS ARE OVERPLAYED HERE IN AMERICA HOWEVER YOUR CHOICES OF TOP PIECES AND THE FIT WILL DETERMINE LOOKS AND CONVO. IT DOESNT MATTER WHETHER YOU ARE FULL OR EMPTY. ITS JUST IN OUR DNA!

  19. #19

    I do wonder if the fact that the model was going to meet a man for a lunch time quickie had anything to do with pulling the ad?

    Also: fellow big-boobed commenters: can we start some sort of support group for chesty ladies? I'm a 34DD since I was like 12. We could go out once a month in tank tops and show our knockers with pride!

  20. #20

    Thank you so much for this! As a well-endowed lady, it took me forever to be ok with wearing things that, on less-endowed ladies, aren't inappropriate, but which on me are apparently objectionable. And the objections usually come from other ladies! I really, really loathe the "how could you dare put THOSE out there?!" looks that I get when I'm walking around in a well-fitting t-shirt or, heavens forbid, a v-neck. Is it really that much to ask that the looks not damn me to a lifetime of hellfire? On more than one occasion, friends have been seriously taken aback by the reaction I get. I'm simply not a showy person by nature, and it's just the way my body is, dammit, but women insist on looking at me like I'm personally injuring them. I'm glad someone finally recognized this as a problem and talked about it instead of looking and judging like most others seem to do...

  21. #21

    I'm torn about this. What about women who are actively choosing to show as much cleavage as possible? As a woman, I know that a ton of off the rack stuff can look "slutty" depending on a woman's build cause clothes are just cut that way. But I also know if you have a v-neck down to your navel AND are wearing a push-your-boobs-to- your-chin bra, it's not an accident that you're showing a ton of cleavage. So what then? I am absolutely not in the "feminism means women can make any choice they want!" camp. But I'm also not sure that my objections are purely from a feminist concern for playing into society's roles too much, and not due to my own internalization of those roles.

    Anyway, timely post. This topic kicked off quite a discussion amongst some friends.

  22. #22

    There's some large boobs in these comments.

  23. pipi long stockings
    #23

    @erika

    Whatever your opinion is on wearing low cut tops, all feminists would agree that women should be treated with respect regardless of what they look like or what they are wearing. So even if someone is intentionally flaunting their cleavage, it is still inappropriate to make rude comments.

    My opinion on wearing intentionally revealing clothing is this: there is nothing wrong with dressing in a way that is meant to be sexy. Men do it all the time without being called slutty or attention whores. I think most people dress for the main purpose of looking attractive to the opposite (or same) sex, but we often slut shame women who do it in a too obvious way.

    The message is, dress in a way that attracts men, but don't be too obvious about it or you're a slut. I think this is highly hypocritical.

  24. #24

    Holy cow. No kidding. This is so true. As a very skinny and small-breasted individual I can wear shirts that people never look twice at that women with larger breasts would either garner negative attention for, or be hit on mercilessly. I have one shirt that I jokingly have dubbed my "sternum shirt" because while a more endowed woman might show cleavage, the neckline only reveals bony sternum on me. While on me it looks like a fairly "modest" because I have little to no boobs to show off, I know that if my breasts were any larger I would probably be labeled a slut.

  25. #25

    A friend of mine wore womens leggings without underwear for over a year, so you could see the outline of his junk very well. There were not many places he could go where his exhibitionism was socially acceptable and he got a lot of negative comments... as I would if I went around with a plunging neck line showing off my hairy chest.

    Point being, by presenting something in a vacume it can be made to look like something that its not.

  26. #26

    While this is all interesting discussion, the woman in the ad is going out in just her underwear and a trenchcoat to meet some guy for "lunch." I don't think a skinnier model would have made this commercial acceptable to the networks. Yes, there is more titillating stuff on the TV, but for some reason commercials seem to be held to a tamer standard than the programs they suppport.

  27. #27

    @Eo... wow. That's gross.

    @thedrymock, I had a feeling that I was going to catch a little flak, but I'm not sure about your tone. It's hard to have a debate when I'm only focused on how the debate is worded. We are on the same side here, honey. I promise.

    @phira, I definitely understand your point in that beauty is subjective, so what could be deemed appropriate would change from one person to the next. I also understand that my point of view on this particular subject stems from a fairly conservative background. When you have a grandmother who told you (and pretty much ingrained in you) that "being a little snooty keeps you on your toes," it is very difficult to shake that conservative slant when it comes to outerwear.

    I understand that my viewpoint came right from the patriarchy. Hell, that's the only place that my grandmother could have gotten it. But at the same time, doesn't dressing conservatively (I use this word just to say that you are showing LESS skin, not so much a burlap sack and clogs) aid in the world seeing you, a woman, as a human being instead of just an object that has tits and ass? Isn't that our goal? I get that we also want to be able to wear whatever we want without being judged as a slut or whore, but living in the real world, what can we do without seeming hypocritical?

  28. #28

    @TJ: maybe just a little weird to criticize someone else's tone and then call him/her "honey."

  29. #29

    @Katie, that was actually the point.

  30. #30

    Re: epic bewbage support group-- let's get on it.

    Also, to my busty sisters out there looking for bras and clothes that fit, I've been shopping at Bravissimo out of the UK. They. Are. Amazing.

    In reply to the comments that the commercial may have been vetoed because of its sexual implications-- how the hell do all those Axe body spray commercials get on the air? Is it more acceptable because they feature bikini models climbing all over an average-looking man? If it's not the cleavage that's the problem, could it be that the networks object to strong female sexuality, especially if she's "fat?" Just putting that out there.

  31. #31

    The Lane Bryant ad re-edit is even saucier...

    http://www.hardtolive.com/2010/04/lane-bryant-lunches-saucy-ad.html

    C'mon. That's funny.

  32. #32

    @TJ

    But at the same time, doesn’t dressing conservatively (I use this word just to say that you are showing LESS skin, not so much a burlap sack and clogs) aid in the world seeing you, a woman, as a human being instead of just an object that has tits and ass?

    The thing is, though, just because my breasts are large for my frame (not even particularly large in general, just large for a small person), I will not satisfy the conceit of "dressing conservatively" until I am in a burlap sack and clogs. I manage perfectly fine paying attention in class when some cute guy wears a tight fitting shirt - why can't I expect the same of my peers when I wear one?

  33. #33

    I have large breasts and I do not agree that wearing them on display is some kind of god given right. Maybe this is a generational difference.

  34. #34

    @gita, you absolutely should expect that level of respect, and that's where I am having a bit of trouble. It's very difficult for me to separate the level of personal responsibility with the expectation of the outside world. We should be able to expect that we are treated with respect, no matter what we are wearing, but we all know that this isn't the real world, and people (men and women) are going to make judgment calls based on our appearance. So with this fact, how do we balance the scales? How do we get to the middle ground of mutual respect so that we, as women, are comfortable with knowing that whatever we wear has no consequence on how we are treated?

  35. #35

    I don't have huge boobs...like Melissa, I'm between a C and a D, but I have versatile boobs...so I know what this feels like. Let me explain. My boobs aren't super cleavage-y and without the support of a push up bra, (of which I do have a few) I don't typically fall into what is considered the "obscene" size. But put on a push up and suddenly people will make comments..."Don't you think you're top is a little low?" "Dang, girl...you better tuck those puppies back in."

    And of course, this will be the same top I was wearing the week before with a less supportive bra, and absolutely no comments.

  36. #36

    Gita,

    You have the choice to pay attention to tight shirt guy or not.
    That's your decision. Similarly he has the choice to pay attention to your display or not. He doesn't get to tell you not to stare with YOUR eyes, and you don't get to tell him not to stare with HIS eyes.

  37. #37

    @cindy

    I'm not putting anything on display. I'm just wearing a fucking shirt.

  38. #38

    I don't think that I should not be allowed to dress sexy when I go out just because other people think that I should dress conservatively. What I wear, as a large-breasted woman, looks a lot more revealing than what a small-breasted woman would look like in the same outfit. And, as another commenter said, the other outfits I tried on were much more revealing, so be thankful...

  39. #39

    @cindy

    actually, wait, no, your comment is way too hilarious for me not to dissect.

    He absolutely has the right to tell me not to stare at him! Just as I have to right to tell people not to stare at my breasts - something I have to do on a daily basis. I don't see how that's unreasonable at all. If someone is doing something to me that makes me feel disrespected, I am going to tell them not to do it. And if I'm doing something that offends someone, I will pay attention when they tell me.

    Also, whose eyes am I going to be staring with, exactly? The eyes of the guy next to me? That is a funny joke! (I hope you were joking.)

  40. #40

    @Gita,
    Just wearing a fucking shirt ??? Seems too conservative and similar to a sack doesn't it?

  41. #41

    @PD

    But do those racy Axe commercials air on network channels during primetime? I admittedly don't watch much TV nowadays, but I can't recall seeing commercials at 8PM that so directly imply an act of sex. Prudish, yes, but I don't think the networks' decision is the result of some unwritten anti-fat policy.

  42. #42

    Big boobs are public domain. Like, not just oggling, I have had strangers effing GRAB at them. I've even evolved to have a karate-chop type maneuver to thwart them if I'm out at a club or a bar.

    The way I look at it, it doesn't matter what I wear, so I might as well look cute. Actually, I get the most attention in a fitted t-shirt--no cleavage, but it emphasizes that my boobs are quite large for my waist size and I inevitably get unwanted attention. I've definitely had my outfit called "slutty" (usually by women, who are damn judgemental about these things) when a less endowed friend was wearing much less and apparently not deemed slutty. That's just how it is. Culture is threatened by big boobs, I think because they're in-your-face-femininity...also because people make such a big deal about boobs in this country. To quote an international student I used to know, "What is the big deal about boobs in this country?"

  43. #43

    @upk

    We can speculate all day about all the different ways this ad may have offended the delicate sensibilities of primetime viewers. The networks aren't commenting, so we don't know what their decision-making process was here. We do know that Lane Bryant has claimed that the networks objected to the cleavage. So either Lane Bryant is blatantly lying about specifics, or or the cleavage was a problem.

  44. #44

    Gita,

    You are obviously still very young. Where people look as long as it's not through YOUR window is absolutely their right!

  45. #45

    @Cindy

    either you're a really bad troll or just a stupid person. with either one, you should feel bad.

  46. #46

    Em,

    Big boobs are not public domain. When I would go out as a single woman and fly the flag, I would expect stares and comments, because that is their right, but the touching from strangers is assault. By the way what country was your international friend from? I do a lot of traveling on business and I disagree that breasts are only a big deal in the U.S.

  47. #47

    Gita,

    You are a brat. Go to your room.

  48. #48

    I'm sorry you think street harassment is okay :(

  49. #49

    France, Cindy. Where they would think you're attitudes prudish. You are precisely the kind of woman that's hard on her own sex, always calling other women whorish, and I'm sorry for you, but please don't be so mean and condescending. It does nothing for your case. To quote a truly horrible movie, "Stop calling each other skanks, because that makes it okay for boys to call you that too." The change begins with us...well, maybe not you, but definitely some other people on this forum.

    And I don't really call wearing a fitted top or a v-neck "flying the flag"...I'm not even single. I'm very much taken, but I do like to dress fashionable from time to time. As my fiance would say, "Oh well, you can't leave them at home."

  50. #50

    jules, I am a 30DDD, and I have been since I was 13. Bras never fit. I can't wear 90% of the tops out there that I would really like to be able to, and I think the world would come to an end if I was to wear a shirt out without a bra underneath

  51. #51

    Em, you are great, but I must say that I loved Mean Girls - it probably helps that I saw it as I was just entering high school, which is basically the perfect time to see it.

  52. #52

    Gita, I loved it too, haha. It's not a good movie, but it's a damn entertaining movie. And I use that one quote a lot because damn, women are MEAN to other women.

  53. #53

    I agree with Em's Mean Girls quote (and also with gita that Mean Girls is pretty fantastic for what it's worth!), and also that you can't leave them at home. A fitted t-shirt is quite enough for women to be rude and men to ogle disgustingly. We end up with a choice of either wearing a too-big shirt to hide our boobs, (making us look sloppy and also much bigger), or wearing a shirt that fits but, because of our breasts, is deemed "slutty". Such a no-win situation is unfair, especially when it's mostly perpetuated by women hating other women. My mother taught me pride in my body, just the way it is. Other women should be so kind to themselves and others. We should not be waging an internal war...

  54. #54

    @ Kristina
    I will try to remember to take pride in my body, and love my body, even if it is not accepted by society's standards.
    It helps to have reminders, and to hear other people say it.
    Thanks.

  55. #55

    @Em

    Oh, I definitely recognize that Mean Girls is in a lot of ways trashy, but I am so fascinated by trash. But I also think that particular film is the kind of trash that can do a lot of good in the world - for me as a 13 year old girl, it made me re-assess the way I related to the other girls around me, and in specific influenced me to stop calling girls "sluts," or "whores." On a grander scale, while Mean Girls does fall into a lot of the harmful tropes of teen sex comedies, it sets a better example for the ways that girls can be portrayed as both people and sexual beings in those types of film. I do not mean that it is perfect, but Regina, Cady and Janis are all much fuller characters than, say, Jules and Becca from Superbad. Or hell, to use an example that features girls in the primary cast, the characters from Mean Girls are so much fuller than the three leads from John Tucker Must Die.

    I could write a whole lot about trash vs. art and female sexuality on film, but I really don't want to derail this conversation any more than it already has been.

    @Kristina
    We end up with a choice of either wearing a too-big shirt to hide our boobs, (making us look sloppy and also much bigger), or wearing a shirt that fits but, because of our breasts, is deemed “slutty”. Such a no-win situation is unfair, especially when it’s mostly perpetuated by women hating other women.

    Absolutely! Also, I wish I had a mother as nice as yours. I love my mom dearly, but I am in my 20s and she continues to tell me to change my clothes if I wear a v-neck shirt.

  56. #56

    @Joliska That is lovely to hear! Ladies can be wonderful and beautiful no matter what! I am part Puerto Rican, and that gave me curves that aren't often found on a light-skinned lady (which I also am!), so it's sometimes hard to remember to love what you have and I can relate to that! But it's so, so important to love what you have right now and not dwell on "if I were only lighter/darker/thinner/thicker/smarter/more acceptable"... The catch-22 of being comfortable in our own skins is that, as ladies, we are not supposed to be assertive and forthcoming, but if we are not we are weak. As much as some might want us to stay that way, I think we have a right to be proud and happy. Isn't that what the goal is? And if happy for you is deemed "slutty" or "unattractive" to someone else, pardon my language, but FUCK THEM.

  57. #57

    @gita Aww my mom actually tells me how beautiful I am constantly. I didn't have that growing up (which, long story, but unfortunately didn't happen around her), so it helps to have it a little bit now! She always says that she loves that I'm beautiful in that way that Victorian women were beautiful, (which is to say that I'm curvycurvycurvy but still beautiful, dammit!), and that she loves it. It's pretty damn nice.

    And, for whatever it's worth, let's have a hug-fest. I'm sure you are beautiful no matter what you are wearing! ESPECIALLY if you think you are! That's the most wonderful and important thing of all...

  58. #58

    Kristina, you are the sweetest person in the world :). My mom does tell me I'm beautiful, but it's always tempered with the idea that I must hide my body lest I send men into crazed fits of lust.

    I had a fiction workshop in high school (it was an arts magnet school) and maybe one of the most significant things I gathered from it was something my teacher said in passing - my body is not a work in progress. It's taken me a long time to accept my body as beautiful and really love it, but I think I am finally there now.

  59. #59

    @Kristina, this is actually pretty helpful to me... :)

    One of the questions that I have always asked (and asked it on this blog) was what can we do, as women, to combat the lack of respect we get from society because of our appearance. I always said that there is a level of personal responsibility if we expect respect for the overall human being (because we are more than just females, we are whole beings) we are. I think what you are saying, that we need to be happy and comfortable in our own skin, is a great first step. If everyone took just THAT level of responsibility, then we as women would be less inclined to criticize the next woman.

    I think getting over that hurdle would make the issues that we have with how men perceive us to be much less of a problem. But I think it's exacerbated by the fact that we are joining in on the tsk-tsking (I fall victim to it, I can admit).

  60. #60

    I hate shopping because every clothing decision I've made since I was 11 has been oriented around hiding my curves. The only clothing decision this doesn't affect is shoes and jewelry. In the past few years I've learned to be more accepting of my body, but I still find myself spending free time thinking of strategic ways to make my boobs and backside look smaller. As someone who actually does a really good job of disguising her endowment, let me tell you that it takes a LOT of work to look "decent" and also not like a bag lady. (I actually went with the bag lady look in jr. high. All my pictures from then feature me in baggy jeans and XL t-shirts.) Like I said, I've loosened (or tightened, ha, ha,) up in the past few years, and now I'm not too bothered if my boatneck shirt might flash someone when I lean over, or if my boobs raising the front edge of my shirt might reveal some tummy when I reach up, but while I've found my own, non-guilt-related reasons for constraining my cleavage (including the looks of happiness and awe from partners who suddenly realize the full volume of what they now have access to), I fully understand when other busty women don't feel like dedicating that many woman-hours to such a cause and just wear what they feel like wearing.

  61. #61

    It's your writing that's revealing, Amanda. Thanks for the valuable insight.

  62. #62

    As a guy, I have a similar problem. Whenever I go out in anything but the baggiest of pants, all the women stare at my ginormous man-meat sausage. It's sooo embarassing!

  63. #63

    BRAVO!!! I stand at 5'10 and at 42 look to be 27 which is odd because I did not start growing cleavage until that age. I was a size 10 fashion and runway model in the 80's. Today I am too small for Lane Bryant and too big for Victoria's Secret ... or should I say as a model I would not be acceptable for VS but I do wear their Bras and Panties as I would be more appropriately sized to model for LB but their clothes and bras are made for plus-size and over weight women and I need to altar there clothing to fit.

    Now a size 16, I am considered muscular - big-boned and voluptuous all in one. To my surprise upon moving to DC a few years ago I learned that women sexualize other women just as much if not more than men do. Men fantasize about us sexually but women viciously feel an immense need to size or measure up to a big breasted female they deem to get more attention than a smaller chested female.

    There becomes this competitive stare down and sometimes a comment here and there - NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF SHIRT I AM WEARING - I CAN NOT HIDE THEM! I have worn scarves to conceal the cleavage line but then something else flattering stands out - so this spring and summer for the first time I have decided to let them fall where they may and celebrate being me no matter what anyone is thinking.

    Henceforth my constant dilemma: Having big breast is not my desire to take your man or get a man but rather to be comfortable in hot weather and fashionable at the same time without having to compromise my body-mind and spirit to accommodate someone elses comfortability or fantasies.
    It saddens me when I hear another celebrity bought implants when I wish genetically to have been able to stay smaller - I did have to realize that in a nutshell it would not really have mattered all that much since even then I was subjected to stares - glares and sexual perverts desires. I think people watch too much tv and constantly feel a need to scapegoat why they do not have something vs what someone else appears to have. So ladies - I know I can get any man I desire but I have chosen to remain celibate because I have not found any men worth my desires. It is not the size of my boobs that I want to get a man's attentions for but the size of his heart and desire to make a committment to me - anything less is prostitution and I ain't that desperate.

    The decision to not run the commercials shows that our society - men in general who run the networks are not ready to see woman below the bra line as worthy of being looked at as sexy. The success of VS commercials is due to small women who are top heavy but fantastically sized enough to throw up and down on a man's lap like a Barbie Doll. When women start supporting each other for all body types and stop the envyliscious viciousness done to other attractive women - then we can change society!

  64. #64

    @TJ

    @Eo… wow. That’s gross.

    Too funny on a post about idiots making stupid comments about how others look TJ.

  65. #65

    Stop complaining assholes!

    Shut up and stare.

  66. #66

    Yes, Jules, let's have a big boobies happy hour occasionally!!!! Amanda...make this happen??!!?? I'm a 36 DD, and I'm so grateful for my current awesome (1) female coworker. One day, I wore a shirt that did, admittedly, qualify for one of my male colleagues comments to the other (1) female staffer in my office of "hey, Mrs. D is totally rocking out the cleavage today!" BUT, I wore that shirt underneath of a nice, concealing jacket. My awesome (1) female coworker's response was "AND??????"

    In my life I have been exposed to (1) 19 years old, working at a retail job, 16-year-old-ish douchecanoe comes in and says, to my face "holy titties batman!" (our uniform was long pants and a loose polo), (2) 14 YEARS OLD, walking through a BBQ festival with my 15 YEAR OLD FRIEND..."hey, room for 2 in that shirt?" (simple button-down, nothing revealing), and (3) many times, walking through a bar, dressed casually, guy looks me up and down and smiles and nods. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??!!??

  67. #67

    Oh, I should also say that in many places it's totally legal for a woman to go topless (Ohio in general and Community Festival in Columbus, Ohio, specifically is a safe place for women to go topless if they choose). Also, a fitted v-neck tshirt is enough for me to draw stares, so STFU. Even a button-down big enough that it looks sloppy on me (no pulling at any of the buttons, huge around the waist) is enough to make people look, so, outside of a burka, what, exactly, is it that I'm supposed to wear? All because my genetics gave me larger mammary glands? Look if you want, but expect to get called out as a pig/superficial bitch if you make it too obvious.

  68. #68

    Oh man, I'm not sure I'm the best person to organize a large-breasted happy hour. My boobs are small and therefore insulated from the slutshaming!

  69. #69

    True, Amanda, but all boobs are great, and I'm never opposed to an opportunity to celebrate that.

  70. #70

    I wear 36FF. The UK high street cuts clothing to an average 36C. This is why I mainly wear T-shirts when the weather turns warm. I haven't worn a shirt or anything that buttons down the middle since I was eighteen, and summer dresses can be a problem as no matter how modest the neckline is it ends up with both the Mitchell Bros hanging out. I'm not far off 6ft and have US Size 11 feet, so next to an 'average' size woman I often feel like some kind of scaled-up prototype.

    "for some reason commercials seem to be held to a tamer standard than the programs they suppport."

    Don't know about the States but in the UK the thinking is that people choose to watch the programmes, and so expect the content, but not the advertisements.

    "When I would go out as a single woman and fly the flag, I would expect stares and comments, because that is their right"

    Stares, possibly. Comments, fuck no. If you saw a fat woman eating a hot dog, is it your 'right' to tell her she shouldn't be doing that? Also, the point here is that many of us more endowed women can't help but 'fly the flag'. Shirts will not fit me. I don't own a suit, because I would have to get one three sizes bigger than my frame to get it to close over my boobs. What do you recommend I wear in order to prevent those who are exercising their right to make inappropriate comments about me to leave me alone? Because even a burkha's going to cling somewhere.

  71. #71

    @Gillian: "Because even a burkha's going to cling somewhere."

    YES. Hahaha. That made me laugh. I'm going to use that line the next time I get shit, because it is TRUE. Prominent boobs (or prominent asses, for that matter) are going to show at least a little no matter what you do. I sometimes get the most harassment in my purposefully baggy exercise clothes. So I might as well dress cute when I want because, alas, it does not matter.

  72. #72

    “When I would go out as a single woman and fly the flag, I would expect stares and comments, because that is their right”

    Aye, there's the rub. The assumption that being young with large breasts = flying the flag. Not so. But it's assumed – why is that?

    Seems a lot of this appears to be related to age – as in, different age groups have different clothing styles. An 18 year old is not going to dress like Hillary Clinton. And vice versa, Hillary Clinton does not dress like an 18 year old. And neither should be judged for not trying to look more like the other.

  73. #73

    @cdog

    interesting that you mention Hillary, who was absolutely picked apart on the, like, one day that she showed some cleave. we're prepared for a woman president ... just not one with boobs.

  74. #74

    @mc about the whole "does she just wish she had some cleavage of her own?" - we women certainly judge each other as much as men judge us (hint: it's called internal colonization, with the colonized fulfilling the policing functions of the colonizers). However, not all reactions are due to jealousy. That's a patriarchal assumption (i.e., "all women want to be pretty/sexy" - because after all, it's a woman's "job" to do this, and if another woman does it better than you, you are just jealous. Maybe not. Maybe it's a discomfort with the whole patriarchal value placed on appearance, in general. That discomfort is perfectly legitimate and understandable, if misdirected toward those women who unwittingly, or unwillingly, fit the patriarchal mold imposed upon all of us).

  75. #75

    Wow! I've gotta say that I'm actually a little relieved that I'm not the only one with this problem. I'm all of five feet with a 36D chest, and I've been like that since I was about 12 (most embarassing moment of elementary school: little sister hooking my bras together in 4th grade and hanging them out the window while yelling at the neighborhood boys to come look).

    They probably wouldn't be that big on someone a bit taller, but I'm short and otherwise pretty slender/fit. I actually go to a great deal of trouble sometimes to adjust clothing so that I could wear it in public. My fiance used to wonder WHY I totally hid them...until we went out to a bar on campus one Halloween and heard comments (from across the street) and saw some guy grope me. There were girls there wearing a LOT less, but boobs are creep magnets I guess. It's too bad, I really did like the dress I had on, but it got me a bit too much negative attention :(

  76. #76

    Note the irony that fucking PAM ANDERSON is on Dancing with the (Porn?) Stars.

    I can't even being to pilfer through this mind boggling contradiction without becoming dizzingly confused.

  77. #77

    Correction: I can't even *begin*

  78. #78

    I have two major grips:
    1. After many years of complaining that Lane Bryant does not use large size model in any of their catelogs misrepresenting the size, look, drapping, length, etc. of their clothes........... they use one and get banned. Unbelievable

    2. The banning is blatant discrimination against the large size woman. Shame on these network for showing many programs and commercial with thin woman and banning this one. Lane Bryant should sue.

  79. #79

    “If I were wearing that same shirt, it wouldn’t seem inappropriate at all,” I noted. Of course, it wasn’t really the shirt—it was the size of the woman’s breasts that was deemed socially unacceptable."

    BINGO! Jealous bitches ...

  80. #80

    Robert: The people making the comments were, as Amanda states, -guys-. Not 'jealous bitches'. Also see Dominique's comment #74. Also, you're comment is rude and inappropriate.

  81. #81

    At least she (that model ) will be OK in Australia where A and B cups are too small for nude tv as they are "childlike". Women and men can't win for the bigotry of others.

  82. #82

    @Rio--wow, that's sad that physical diversity can't be embraced anywhere. My friend group all has a variety of boob sizes and body types and they're all lovely women. If the culture could just accept that instead of shoving women into cookie-cutter molds none of us can fit--especially since the mold is always changing and never healthy.

  83. #83

    As a woman with "epic cleavage" too (I can't remember who Im quoting here, but thanks, its a great line),I've just accepted that men AND women are going to look at my chest...whatever, if it gives them a thrill, fine, great....but I draw the line at gratuitous drive by boobie grabbing by strangers...which is not as uncommon as I would like unfortunately.

  84. #84

    i really appreciate this. I think it also affects the way business or work-appropriate clothes are viewed. I'm a fairly short girl, VERY small, but rather on the large side in other areas (30/32 D). My coworkers often wear rather bodyconcious dresses to work, clingy but not obscene. Not a chance I could wear the same thing to anywhere other than a bar or party. My boobs just stick out too far compared to my body to the point where it's not really sexy, it's just awkward for me. My nickname in high school was "tits on a stick." My friends say they envy my body - but I've been uncomfortable about it for so long I don't really embrace the fun sides anymore.

Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.
...